US Zoetis to acquire Irish Nexvet Biopharma

Zoetis Inc and Nexvet Biopharma plc have announced an agreement in which Zoetis, through a wholly owned subsidiary (Zoetis Bidco), will purchase Nexvet, an innovator in monoclonal antibody therapies for companion animals, for a purchase price of US$6.72 per share, representing an aggregate equity valuation of approximately US$85 million. The acquisition will strengthen Zoetis’ pipeline of solutions for chronic pain management in dogs and cats, which represents an area of high-need in companion animal health.
The board of directors of Nexvet has unanimously approved the acquisition, which is being implemented by means of a scheme of arrangement, a statutory procedure under Irish law. The acquisition is subject to approval by Nexvet’s shareholders and the Irish High Court and other customary conditions, and it is currently expected to be completed during the second half of 2017.
Nexvet, founded in 2010 and headquartered in Tullamore, Ireland, is a biologic therapeutics company with a pipeline of monoclonal antibody (mAb) therapies being developed for companion animals in pain and other therapeutic areas. The company has research and development operations in Melbourne, Australia, a manufacturing facility in Tullamore, and a US office in San Francisco.
“This acquisition is a strategic fit that brings to Zoetis an R&D organization that shares our commitment to industry-leading innovation,” said Dr Alejandro Bernal, Executive Vice President and Group President, Strategy, Commercial and Business Development at Zoetis. “It will strengthen our R&D pipeline in monoclonal antibodies and help sustain our category leadership in chronic pain management for companion animals, which is an area poised for innovation with new mAb therapies. The transaction demonstrates how we continue to invest to drive innovation and future growth.”
“We are certain that Zoetis, with its leadership in R&D, high quality manufacturing, marketing excellence, global scale and strong customer relationships, is the ideal company to guide our monoclonal antibody candidates through development into commercialization,” said Dr George Gunn, Chairman of the Board of Nexvet. “We see the integration with Zoetis as the logical next step to realize our ambition to bring groundbreaking antibody therapeutics to market.”
Therapies to treat chronic pain in companion animals represent a global area valued at an estimated US$400 million a year. Nexvet’s pipeline product ranevetmab, a mAb targeting nerve-growth factor (NGF) for treatment of chronic pain associated with osteoarthritis in dogs, would, upon approval, be the companion animal industry’s first monoclonal antibody therapy administered monthly by injection for chronic pain. Ranevetmab would enable Zoetis to expand its portfolio of solutions for chronic pain in dogs.
Nexvet is also developing frunevetmab, a monoclonal antibody targeting NGF to treat chronic pain associated with osteoarthritis in cats. Feline treatments for pain are limited, and frunevetmab could open up a new opportunity in feline pain that is underserved today.
Zoetis has been a leader in the treatment of osteoarthritis pain and inflammation in dogs for two decades with the company’s Rimadyl® (carprofen), the first non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) product approved for use in dogs. Zoetis also developed and markets the NSAID product Trocoxil (mavacoxib), a COX-2 inhibitor approved in the European Union and other international markets to treat arthritis pain and inflammation in dogs.
Zoetis has earned a reputation as a pioneer in bringing veterinarians first-in-class antibody therapy solutions for areas of high unmet need in animal health. The company’s mAb therapy Cytopoint™ was licensed in the U.S. in December 2016 to control the clinical signs such as itching associated with atopic dermatitis in dogs. Zoetis anticipates its approval in the European Union this year.
“We recognize the significant achievements of the Nexvet R&D team,” said Dr Catherine Knupp, Executive Vice President and President, Research and Development at Zoetis. “The research programs initiated by Nexvet will be integrated into our operation to leverage the scale and experience of Zoetis’ existing global R&D expertise.”